Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research

No 5/2009: Marital Partner and Mortality: The Effects of the Social Positions of Both Spouses

Robert Erikson () and Jenny Torssander ()
Additional contact information
Robert Erikson: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Postal: SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Jenny Torssander: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Postal: SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Background Individual education, social class, social status and income are all associated with mortality, and this is likewise the case for the position of the marital partner. We investigate the combined effect on mortality of own and partner’s positions regarding these four factors. Methods Prospective follow-up of information in the 1990 Census of the Swedish population aged 30-59 (N=1 502 148). Data on all-cause mortality and deaths from cancer and circulatory disease for the period 1991-2003 were collected from the Cause of Death Register. Relative mortality risks were estimated by Cox regression. Results All-cause mortality of both men and women differs by women’s education and status and by men’s social class and income. Men’s education has an effect on their own mortality but not on their partner’s, when other factors are included in the models. Women’s education and men’s social class are particularly important for women’s deaths from circulatory diseases. Conclusions The partner’s social position has a clear effect on individual mortality, and women’s education seems to be particularly important. The results appear above all to support hypotheses about the importance of lifestyle and economic resources for socio-economic differences in mortality.

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18 pages, May 5, 2009

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